A WOMAN bit and punched medical staff and also lobbed a sharps box and a soaked incontinence pad during a rampage at Antrim Area Hospital, a court heard.
Nora Doherty (28), of Hawthorn Street in Belfast, admitted being disorderly at Antrim Area Hospital and assaulting four staff members on February 5 this year.
A prosecutor told Antrim Magistrates Court, sitting in Ballymena, police were called to the hospital at 11.15pm on February 5 in relation to assaults involving an aggressive patient who had been brought in earlier that evening "due to intoxication".
Doherty assaulted three nurses and a nursing Sister.
A male staff nurse said when he had gone to remove a dislodged cannula, the defendant accused him of "touching" her.
Doherty then left a treatment room and began shouting and swearing at staff.
A female nurse said the defendant tried to slap in her in the face but she blocked the assault with her arm.
Another female nurse was punched in the eye but no injuries were reported, the court was told.
The prosecutor said a Deputy Sister said Doherty threw an incontinence pad at her, which burst when it struck her hip, "soaking her uniform".
The prosecutor said the Sister followed the defendant and when she "grabbed" Doherty's arm" the defendant "bit her ring finger".
"The nurse said she heard a crack and felt a sharp pain. She said it was left sore and stiff".
Doherty then lifted a 'sharps box' containing "used needles" and threw it at the nurses who were "trying to assist her".
The defendant continued to swear and shout at staff and police and officers restrained her.
When interviewed she apologised and said she had "no memory" of the incidents.
The court heard the defendant is a mother-of-four.
Defence barrister Aaron Thompson said judges "offer stiff protection to nurses and hospital staff" and Doherty was "greatly troubled" about what happened but there had been no further offending since sentencing was deferred in April this year.
District Judge Nigel Broderick said the facts were "appalling".
He said: "The courts have said time and time again they will not tolerate anyone who creates disturbance, let alone assaults members of the medical profession, in hospital."
He said the only reason he had not sent to her prison in April was because she was a mother of four "relatively young children".
The judge said she had not re-offended since April and added: "I have no doubt that if you did go to prison it would have an impact on your children because they wouldn't be able to have contact with you during that period.
"So, not without some significant hesitation, I am going to impose a suspended prison sentence with a very clear warning that if you breach the sentence I will have little, or no, hesitation in sending you straight to prison".
Doherty was given a five months prison term, suspended for three years.
- Main picture: Antrim Area Hospital. File image.